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game recap

Matthews returns to Maple Leafs, has two goals in win against Sharks

Tavares scores twice to help Toronto to third straight victory

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

Matthews picks the corner for PPG

SJS@TOR: Matthews nets PPG in first game back

Auston Matthews takes the feed from Morgan Rielly and snaps a gorgeous shot past Aaron Dell for a power-play goal in his return to the lineup

  • 00:47 •

TORONTO -- Auston Matthews had two goals and an assist for the Toronto Maple Leafs in his return to the lineup in a 5-3 win against the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday.

Matthews missed the past 14 games after sustaining a left shoulder injury Oct. 27 against the Winnipeg Jets.

"After the first I felt terrible; second period, I didn't feel too good, and I think in the third period I finally got my legs under me and I was kind of skating out there a little bit more," Matthews said. "That's kind of expected with that first game back. It's tough to get into game shape when you're just in practice."

 

[WATCH: All Sharks vs. Maple Leafs highlights]

 

John Tavares scored twice, Patrick Marleau scored, Mitchell Marner had three assists, and Frederik Andersen made 38 saves for the Maple Leafs (18-8-0), who have won three in a row and 10 of their past 13.

"I don't know if we skated as good as we normally skate," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "We have good players and found a way to play good enough and win. It was a big win for us against a good team."

Tomas Hertl, Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson scored; Logan Couture had two assists and Aaron Dell made 24 saves for the Sharks (12-9-5), who have lost three in a row.

"Yes, we got away from how we needed to play, we didn't play the way we needed to," Couture said. "We played it in spurts. I thought a large part of the second period we did [what we needed to]. I thought we played well in the second half of the game and generated a lot of opportunities but too many easy goals for them."

The Maple Leafs took a 1-0 lead at 3:38 of the first period when Tavares scored off a pass from Matthews at the right side of the crease on the power play.

"I felt like three guys were covering Mitch and so I was wide open when I got the puck. I could have shot it but John was wide open back door," Matthews said. "When we're moving the puck around using each other it seems to be pretty evident we have a lot of weapons."

Video: SJS@TOR: Matthews sets up Tavares for PPG in return

Hertl tied it 1-1 at 10:40 on the power play when he put in a loose puck that was knocked down by Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott in the slot.

Matthews made it 2-1 at 11:19 on the power play when he shot high to Dell's blocker side from the left face-off dot.

Tavares scored his 17th goal of the season at 19:42 to make it 3-1 when he skated to the net and had Marner's pass go in off his skate.

Video: Clutch Performance: Marner notches three more assists

"The goal at the end of the first was unacceptable, can't happen," Couture said. "We have a 3-on-3 and give up a tap-in backdoor. It's a big goal in the game."

Marleau scored on the power play at 1:53 of the second period to make it 4-1 when he one-timed a pass from Andreas Johnsson from the bottom of the right face-off circle. Marleau became the 25th player to score against each of the 31 NHL teams.

The Sharks cut the lead to 4-2 at 4:18 when Pavelski one-timed a pass from Brent Burns.

Video: SJS@TOR: Pavelski buries PPG from sharp angle

Matthews deflected a shot from Johnsson to put the Maple Leafs up 5-2 at 10:59 of the third period.

Karlsson deflected a pass from Joonas Donskoi at 18:02 to cut the lead to 5-3.

"They have a good power play, for sure," Pavelski said. "You've got to stay out of the box against them and play them 5-on-5. When we did that we were very successful tonight."

 

They said it

"I think we understand, the 25-game mark you have a good feel for your team, and you should. When [coach] Peter [DeBoer] first got here it took 40 to 50 games, and we've got some big pieces here and a lot of new faces so we'll keep building, keep working towards finding it a little bit better." -- Sharks forward Joe Pavelski on searching for consistency as a team

 

"His skill set is no secret. The last couple days he had great jump in practice, feeling good knowing he was close to returning. You can just see what makes him a special player. For me, it's great to be around him and I can pick things up and learn from him and hopefully I can do the same and we all can push each other to continue to get better. When you're around guys like him with his talent it drives the team." -- Maple Leafs forward John Tavares on Auston Matthews' return

 

Need to know

Sharks forward Evander Kane played his 600th NHL game. ... Marner has two or more assists in each of his past three games and has eight assists during that span. … Tavares has 30 points in 26 games this season. Since 1980-81, only three Maple Leafs skaters have needed fewer than 26 games to get 30 points, Dan Daoust (22 games in 1982-83), Doug Gilmour (20 games in 1991-92) and Dave Andreychuk (20 games in 1992-93).

 

What's next

Sharks: At the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; TVAS, TSN5, NBCSCA, NHL.TV)

Maple Leafs: At the Minnesota Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, FS-N+, NHL.TV)

Video: Matthews scores twice in return, Leafs top Sharks

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